Caribbean pays final respects to Sir Dwight Venner
CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Jan. 4 (CMC) — The Caribbean bade farewell to the longest-serving governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Sir Dwight Venner on Wednesday with St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves describing him as “among our best”.
Sir Dwight died here on Dec. 22 after efforts to fly him out to the French island of Martinique for medical treatment failed.
He was 70.
Gonsalves said that the St. Vincent-born Sir Dwight, who was a “Caribbean man to the core”, was a superior pragmatist who compromised “without being compromising”.
He told the congregation at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in the capital, that Sir Dwight, who left to mourn his wife and seven children, would be remembered “in our pages of history reserved for our titans”.
Gonsalves, who taught at the University of the West Indies (UWI) with Sir Dwight, said he was a “majestic Caribbean Viking” who always implored that “we are not better than them but no one better than us.
“He was a philosopher, a student of political economy… He was among our best,” Gonsalves said of the economist.
In his eulogy, former director general of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Sir Vaughan Lewis, said the monetary economist had the ability to use his scientific knowledge in a practical manner as well as being able to persuade the ordinary person to understand the relevance of the ECCB.
He said Sir Dwight had lived a “life of activity and achievement” adding “we will miss also his capacity for doing this in plain and simple language.
“As we now see him off we give thanks for service he has given. His record of public service has been a splendid one, precious example not only to his successors at the bank but to public servants of our OECS region on a whole,” the former UWI lecturer said during the near four-hour service attended by prime ministers from the OECS region, regional and international bankers and technocrats.
His daughter, Amirh Venner, described her late father as one who was an “avid reader” and was “fascinated by the people around him”.
She said he had always believed that the “Caribbean is in the world and not out of the world”.
Sir Dwight died just over a year after announcing his retirement in late November 2015 after 26 years of service in his position as governor of the ECCB that serves as a central bank for Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the British Virgin islands.
He was the longest-serving governor of any central bank, monetary authority, or federal reserve, having served since 1989.
The bank said during Sir Dwight’s tenure as Governor, the ECCB grew in stature and service. He led many reforms. The banking and financial system expanded and remained stable throughout various financial crises. Above all, the EC dollar remained strong.
“Sir Dwight wrote extensively on the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, development of the Caribbean and central banking. He was the architect of affiliate institutions such as the Eastern Caribbean Stock Exchange, the most modern in the Caribbean, and the Eastern Caribbean Home Mortgage Bank. He was an avid sports fan especially cricket and football.”
Sir Dwight was an economist by training and was educated at the Mona, Jamaica campus of UWI, where he obtained both Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in economics.
He served as a junior research fellow at the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of the West Indies and then as a lecturer in economics from 1974 to 1981.
He wrote and published extensively in the areas of monetary and international economics, central banking, public finance, economic development, political economy and international economic relations.
Prior to becoming governor of the Central Bank, he served in the position of Director of Finance and Planning in the St. Lucia government between November 1981 and November 1989.
Sir Dwight received the award of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1996 in St Lucia and was recognised as a Distinguished Graduate of the University of the West Indies on its 50th Anniversary in July 1998.
In June 2001, he was awarded Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for services to the financial sector.
In October 2003, the Sir Dwight received an honorary degree, the Doctor of Laws from the University of the West Indies.
In December 2011, he was awarded the St. Lucia Cross for distinguished and outstanding service of national importance to St. Lucia.